Tag Archives: Quixote

World Book Day and Tilting at Windmills

It’s exciting enough that my book is about to be released into the world – but it so happens that tomorrow, 3rd March, is also World Book Day 2011. That is some birthday for The Butterfly Heart!

I’ll spend the day talking to four different groups …. in the morning I will be in Loughboy Library talking to various 5th Class groups from three Kilkenny national schools and in the afternoon I will talk to a small book club from the Father McGrath Homework Club at Dubray Books. Looking forward to meeting all of them.

World Book Day is actually 23rd April – but is celebrated in Britain and Ireland on the first Thursday of March, apparently because this ensures children are in school on the day it falls.  The rest of the world still  celebrates it on the 23rd April. The origins of this lie in Catalonia, one of the seventeen regions/communities of Spain (see below)

Known as La Diada de Sant Jordi (St George’s Day) it was on 23rd April 1616 that two great writers died – Cervantes and Shakespeare.   Miguel de Cervantes is best known for his great satiric novel Don Quixote – from which came both the word quixotic as well as the term ’tilting at windmills’.   On this day in Catalonia the tradition is that books and roses are exchanged between sweethearts and in that community alone over 400,000 books and 4 million roses are bought and exchanged.

Given the backdrop to World Book Day I can’t help wishing that we celebrated it on the 23rd April like the rest of the world (despite me being happy that my own book is being released on a day that coincidentally falls on this day).

The purpose of World Book Day internationally is to promote books, literacy and understanding throughout the world and this takes different shapes in different countries. In Ireland the focus is on children and reading and I am delighted to be able to play a small role in Kilkenny by reading to school pupils and chatting to them about books and writing.